Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Publications

 

Working Paper 513 cover
July 18, 2019

What We Learn about Girls’ Education from Interventions that Do Not Focus on Girls

Previous efforts to synthesize evidence on how to improve educational outcomes for girls have tended to focus on interventions that are principally targeted to girls, such as girls’ latrines or girls’ scholarships. But if general, non-targeted interventions—those that benefit both girls and boys—significantly improve girls’ education, then focusing only on girl-targeted interventions may miss some of the best investments for improving educational opportunities for girls in absolute terms. 

Cover of Working Paper 500
January 14, 2019

Gendered Language - Working Paper 500

Gender languages assign many—sometimes all—nouns to distinct sex-based categories, masculine and feminine. We construct a new data set, documenting this property for more than four thousand languages which together account for more than 99 percent of the world’s population.

Cover of Working Paper 470
December 7, 2017

Family Planning and Fertility Behavior: Evidence from Twentieth Century Malaysia - Working Paper 470

There is longstanding debate about the contribution of family planning programs to fertility decline. Studying the staggered introduction of family planning across Malaysia during the 1960s and 1970s, we find modest responses in fertility behavior. Overall, Malaysia’s total fertility rate declined by about one quarter birth under family planning, explaining only about 10 percent of the national fertility decline between 1960 and 1988. Our findings are consistent with growing evidence that global fertility decline is predominantly due to underlying changes in the demand for children.

Kimberly Singer Babiarz , Jiwon Lee , Grant Miller , Tey Nai Peng and Christine Valente
Cover of Working Paper 471
December 7, 2017

Family Planning and Women’s Economic Empowerment: Incentive Effects and Direct Effects among Malaysian Women - Working Paper 471

Although family planning programs can improve women’s welfare directly through changes in realized fertility, they may also have important incentive effects by increasing parents’ investments in girls not yet fertile. We study these potential incentive effects, finding that family planning may have raised raise girls’ educational attainment substantially. We also find that these early investments are linked to gains in women’s paid labor at prime working ages and to greater support for women’s elderly parents (a marker for women’s bargaining power within the household). Notably, these incentive effects may be larger than the direct effects of family planning alone.

Kimberly Singer Babiarz , Jiwon Lee , Grant Miller , Tey Nai Peng and Christine Valente
Cover of Working Paper 465
October 13, 2017

Norms and Reform: Legalizing Homosexuality Improves Attitudes - Working Paper 465

This analysis examines the relationship between legal reform and social norms surrounding homosexuality. First, about a fifth of the variation in individual preferences can be explained at a country level. Second, using a difference-in-differences strategy, legalizing homosexuality improves how individuals view the tone of their communities. Third, we provide further evidence supporting a legal origins argument by examining former colonies. We conclude that adopting legal reform can improve societal attitudes.

May 22, 2017

Gender Matters in Economic Empowerment Interventions: A Research Review - Working Paper 456

A review of the recent evaluation evidence on financial services and training interventions questions their gender neutrality and suggests that some design features in these interventions can yield more positive economic outcomes for women than for men. These include features in savings and ‘Graduation’ programs that increase women’s economic self-reliance and self-control, and the practice of repeated micro borrowing that increases financial risk-taking and choice. Subjective economic empowerment appears to be an important intermediate outcome for women that should be promoted and more reliably and accurately measured. Lastly, whenever possible, results should be sex-disaggregated and reported for individuals as well as households.